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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Buckley and Friedman's Intellectual Conservatism



In a time where conservatives are struggling to make conservatism popular again, there has been much reference of President Ronald Reagan and his core principles, and rightfully so. I too reference Reagan for the successful precedent his tenure set for conservatism. However, I feel too little attention is paid to the conservative thinkers who spurred the movement which put the likes of Reagan in the White House; thinkers like Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley who, I am ashamed to say, are all-too-unfamiliar to my generation. This unfamiliarity, no doubt, can be directly attributed to generations of indoctrination primarily proliferated by liberal academia (the ironic source of Mr. Buckley's first book and consequential fame, God And Man At Yale)

It seems futile to look at the policies enacted by President Reagan without first truly understanding the philosophy motivating him. To understand the philosophy of conservatism, real conservatism, one must first examine the brilliant minds which were primarily responsible for shaping and propagating that philosophy.

A fundamentally valid and sound philosophy never ages, never expires. When such a philosophy makes itself visible, society ought not cast it aside because it was improperly applied. It is the improper application which should be discarded, but a valid and sound philosophy remains valid and sound irrespective of those who seek to misdefine or abuse it.

The recent rallying cries for the Republican Party to "get back to its conservative roots," are not, as liberals contend, pleas for further polarization. The roots of real conservatism are populist in their appeal and inclusive in nature. All the negative stigmas liberalism seeks to pin on conservatism were not applicable to William F. Buckley's conservatism, just as the principles of Keynesian economics never could hold a candle to the free market arguments of Milton Friedman.

Conservatism did not fail America, wolves in conservative clothing did.

For those who have never had the fortune of hearing or learning about Mr. Friedman or Mr. Buckley (i.e. those who attended public schools and liberal arts colleges), allow me to wet your lips at the cup of intellectual conservatism.





Conservatism and intellectualism are not distinct, as the Left contends. On the contrary, conservatism and intellectualism are inherently and invariably linked. The loss of such lions as Buckley and Friedman is heavy indeed, but their passing does not invalidate the sound philosophies they left behind.

What the Republican Party needs is not a redefinition of conservatism, but rather a return to what conservatism was always intended to be: the intellectually valid and sound conservatism of Buckley and Friedman.
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